South Cotabato veggie farmers feed harvests to animals due to lack of buyers

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 09 July) – Due to low farm gate prices and scarce market demand, some farmers in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato have opted to feed their vegetables to animals such as pigs than left them to rot.

A boy prepares cooked vegetables for feeding to their pigs in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Contributed photo

Enrique Valenzuela, marketing manager of the Lake Sebu Vegetable Growers Association, said that 600 kilograms of cucumber, eggplant, upo and patola harvested from his four-hectare farm have become foods for their fattening pigs.

“The farm gate prices of those easy-to-grow vegetables average six pesos only nowadays but still buyers are scarce,” he told MindaNews early this week.

Together with his child, Valenzuela said they tried to sell cucumber in 15-kilo packs for five pesos per kilo in various South Cotabato localities but went home with the bulk of their crop still intact.

He blamed the bumper harvest and low market demand due to consumer hard times for the plunge in prices of those vegetable crops.

Even ordinary people in the province planted these easy-to-grow vegetables during the COVID-19 lockdown period in mid-March to May, that’s why there’s a bumper harvest, Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela lamented that farm gate price of cucumber was much better during the COVID-19 lockdown as it fetched 30 pesos per kilo.

Also due to lack of buyers, he said that other farmers in Lake Sebu, a vegetable-producing town, have been feeding their abundant squash harvests to tilapia and rabbits, the latter in test propagation for its meat potentials.

According to him, the seasonal rains also triggered the abundant vegetable harvests in the province.

Valenzuela urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to visit farmers in the communities to see their plight and then come-up with viable solutions to their problems.

Bumper harvests for easy-to-grow vegetables trigger low farm-gate prices, prompting farmers to feed them to farm animals than left to rot in Lake Sebu, Soutb Cotabato. Contributed photo

Harmie Jay Hechanova, DA-Region12 high value crops coordinator, said the planting of vegetables by households during the lockdown led to lower market demand nowadays as people have been harvesting from their backyards.

“In the new normal, we have seen people still not going to the major public market where farmers usually sell their bulk vegetable harvest. They are patronizing the talipapa (side street vendors) instead of buying in the public markets to the detriment of dedicated farmers,” he told MindaNews separately.

Hechanova said the Agriculture department has been helping vegetable farmers link their products to buyers through the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita,” a collaborative project with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Food Terminal Inc.”

He noted that vegetable farmers in dire straits can also avail of emergency loan amounting to at least P20,000, payable for one year without interest, from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

The DA can help them process their loans with LBP, he added. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)